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Beaver Falls Township
The History of Renville County, Volume 2
Compiled by Franklyn Curtiss-Wedge
Beaver Falls township, formerly known as Beaver township, is located in the southern part of the county. It is bounded on the west by Flora township, on the north by Henryville township, on the east by Birch Cooley township, and on the south by Redwood county, from which it is separated by the southeastward course of the Minnesota river. Beaver creek passes through the township from northeast to southwest, emptying into the Minnesota river. The surface of the township is a rolling prairie and the soil is a black loam with a clay subsoil. The valley of the creek is heavily wooded and the bottomlands along the Minnesota are also wooded.
The story of Beaver township before the Outbreak has already been told. The first settlers in Beaver township after the Outbreak were Dietrich Wichmann and family. They came in the spring of 1865, and moved into a shed on their former claim. When the family escaped on the opening day of the Outbreak in 1862 they had returned to their former home in Illimois. In the fall 1864 they had come back to Minnesota and located in Redstone, below New Ulm, in Nicollet county, where they operated the ferry. It was that fall that the father and some of the sons made a trip to their former home in Beaver, and found that their cabin was still standing. When the whole family came in the spring of 1865, however, the cabin had been burned, probably by trappers, and they took up their home in the straw shed. But they had been there but a short time when news came that the Indians were again on the rampage. Mr. Wichmann accordingly took his family back to Redstone. Then with his three oldest sons and Henry Ahrens, who in the meantime, after the Massacre, had been living in Illinois, he came back to his claim. They were encouraged in this by Col. William Pfaender, then in command at Fort Ridgely. Col. Pfaender believed that the danger was past, and that settlers were safe in settling in the country ravaged by the Massacre. He knew that the departure of the Wichmanns would discourage other settlers from coming. He accordingly offered Mr. Wichmann arms and ammunition and told him that he would be protected. Mr. Ahrens found his house still standing. Mr. Wichmann and his three sons spent the summer in erecting a house and in putting in a crop. The lumber was hauled from New Ulm. In the fall the [Wichmann] family came from Redstone, and with them the Ahrens family, and Albert Schaefer and family. These were the only settlers in Beaver that fall.
Before the Massacre an attempt was made to give the name "Upson" to the township, but after the county was organized the name of Beaver was given. This has never been officially changed. But the village was named Beaver Falls and gradually the name of the village came to be applied to the township. When the town was organized April 2, 1867, it took in all of range 35 lying within the county. It has had its present boundaries since 1875. The first township election was held in 1867 at the store of C. Prignitz in Beaver Falls village.
The earliest official records of this township are not preserved. The records are continuous since Nov. 26, 1870, and are in the custody of the clerk, William Zumwinkle. At the meeting held on Nov. 26, 1870, the commissioners present were L. E. Morse (chairman), James O'Neil, Sr., and John Dagen. Darwin S. Hall was appointed clerk in place of P. H. Swift, resigned. Petitions for town roads presented by A. H. Babcock and others, and J. Sharp and others, were rejected on account of the informality of their presentation. The bridge across Beaver creek, built by Essler Brothers, was accepted and the last order drawn in payment for the same.
There is now a town hall located in the village of Beaver Falls. It was erected as a store building some time between 1866 and 1870 and in 1871 was occupied by Peter Henry and James Greely.
The present officers are: Supervisors, Henry Ahrens (chairman), Louis Zinne and John Schweinfurter; clerk, William Zumwinkle; treasurer, Henry Schafer; assessor, F. E. Zumwinkle.
The first real estate assessment of Beaver township was made in 1868. Those assessed in 113-35 that year were: Percy & George Burch, section 22; Thomas Barkey, 20; Patrick Barkey, 20; Fred Blum, 27; James Carrothers, 22; David Carrothers, 22, 21; Henry Carstens, 27; _______ Angell, 28; Albert Dagen, 26, 35; R. W. Earl and S. J. Comstock, 22; William C. Essler, 22; William C. Essler and D. Carrothers, 22; Essler & Read, 22; Isaac & Albert Fuller, 22; Rufus M. Gage, 17; Henry Hipple, 15, 27; F. H. Homier, 20; Frank B. and Lycurgus Hall, 20; Carl Holtz, 22; Andrew Hunter, 22, 27, 28; Benedict Juni, 25, 26; August Linderman, 7; John Meyer, 7; Mary Martin, 13; L. E. Morse, 27; Newell Morse and G. F. Marsh, 26, 27; H. W. Nelson, 15, 19, 20; Isaac Renville, 20, 29; Mary Renville, 11, 12; Mary S. Robertson, 22; T. H. Risinger, 20; Franz W. Smith, 14; N. D. White, 15, 20; Fred Yager, 27.
The first personal property assessment of Beaver township (113-35) was made in 1869. (This probably included some of township 114-35, now Henryville.) Those assessed were: John Arnet, Henry Ahrens, G. W. Burch, R. Butler, F. Blume, Sr., Henry Blume, Jas. Blair, P. Barkey, Jas. Butler, T. H. Barkey, I. A. Busch, E. E. Comstock, David Carrothers, James Carrothers, W. W. Clift, A. D. Corey, C. W. Cory, H. Carstens, ________ Churchel, L. A. Colson, R. R. Corey, John Dagan, Albert Dagan, W. H. Davis, L. W. Dibble, R. W. Earl, Jasper Fisher, David Ferguson, A. Garroty, J. M. Greely, Hodgdon & McClure, T. H. Homin, Carl Holtz, L. Hall, James Holdin, D. S. Hall, W. Hall, F. B. Hall, J. Hemecks, L. Herbert, Andrew Hunter, J. S. G. Honner, H. Hipple, Andrew Johnson, Jacob Krell, Joseph Kartack, F. S. Kinney, August Lindermann, George B. Legg, Newell Morse, B. G. McKay, L. E. Morse, F. F. Marsh, Robert, Nicholson, H. W. Nelson, Steven O'Neil, John O'Neil, William O'Neil, Charles O'Neil, N. O'Neil, James O'Neil, Sr., James O'Neil, Jr., A. Pregler, Caroline Pregnitz, _______ Phelps, T. H. Risinger, Hiram Rich, William Read, Joseph Rourk, Walter Rul, Caleb Rich, John Renville, Geo A. Read, Jas. Swoboda, John Swoboda, Judson Seely, H. Seely, _______ Sargent, F. W. Swift, Peter Simmons, N. Stone, Homer Smith, Albert Shafer, Fred Storck, M. S. Spicer, M. Shefler, Frantz W. Schmidt, Joseph Sharp, N. Swift, L. H. Tisdell, Louis Thiele, R. G. Weed, John H. White, E. F. Wickmann, N. D. White, D. Wichmann.
Beaver Falls Village, the first county seat of Renville county, was admirably situated on Beaver creek, one and a half miles from the Minnesota river in a circular valley, half a mile in extent, and surrounded by high bluffs. The first settler in the village was David Carrothers, who, with Col. Samuel McPhail, platted the village July 25, 1866. In January, 1867, Col. McPhail disposed of his interests to William C. Essler.
The first house was built by David Carrothers. The first general store was opened by Christian Pregnitz. The first hotel was erected by Louis Thiele. The first sawmill and gristmill in the village was that of Reid & Son. The first wagon shop was owned by Reinhold Hummel, followed soon afterward by Jerry P. Patten and Eben Snell in the same business; the first blacksmith shop by Henry Hippel; the first drug store by J. W. Barnard; the first shingle mill by R. G. Weed; the first brewery by Henry Lump; the first meat market by D. J. Deasy; the first hardware store by John and P. W. Heins. The first banker was Hans Gronnerud; the first physician was Dr. T. H. Sherwin; the first attorney was P. H. Swift, the next George H. Megquier; the first postoffice was opened with M. S. Spicer as postmaster. It was discontinued in 1902 when Philip Meier was postmaster. The first church was the Methodist Episcopal, organized by Elder N. Swift; the next was the Epsicopal. The cemetery is controlled by the Beaver Falls Cemetery Association.
The first birth after the outbreak was on February 4, 1866, when Edward Butler was born to James and Jane Butler. August 16, 1866, Ida May Carrothers was born to David and Elizabeth Carrothers.
Before the outbreak Rev. John Williamson, son of the missionary, Dr. T. S. Williamson, preached at Beaver, but Elder Hall, a Presbyterian clergyman from Redwood Falls, was the first to locate here. He preached regularly every two weeks in 1866 at Beaver. The first newspaper was the Beaver Falls Gazette, which was established in 1870 by J. A. Wells. The first justice was N. D. White. The first school was taught by Mrs. J. S. Greely in the fall of 1868, in a building owned by Hiram Rich.
The business of Beaver Falls in 1883 was as follows: One newspaper, the Renville Times, H. Kelsey, editor; one clergyman, Rev. John Lamberton, M. E.; one attorney, S. R. Miller; one store with general merchandise, by Peter Berndgen; one drug store, by Iver S. Gerald; one brewery, by A. Betz; one blacksmith, Gustave Strenzel; one harness-maker, Herman Zumwinkle; one shoemaker, Michael Keifer; one wagon-maker, R. Hummel; one hardware and agricultural store, by Heins & McClure; one hotel, the Dakota House, by Carl Holtz; two grist-mills.
The village was incorporated in 1889, but the incorporation was abandoned. The village now consists merely of a small cluster of buildings, the removal of the county seat having killed all its business.
Village lots in Beaver Falls were first assessed in 1868. The principal owners were Essler & Carrothers. Those who had already secured lots were: H. Hipple, lots 7, 8, block 11; lot 1, block 13; Hiram Rich, lots 11 and 12, block 11; C. Prignitz, lots 1 and 2, block 14. In 1870, the following names had been added: Andreas Betz, lots 8, 9, block 8; ______ Le Ferre, lot 9, block 9; Peter Henry, lot 10, block 9; Heins Bros., lots 11, 12, block 9; C. H. Drew, lot 7, block 10; R. Hummell, lots 8, 9, block 10; R. G. Weed, lot 10, block 11; William McHerron, lot 6, block 13; M. Fuller, lot 5, block 13; Louis Theile, lot 9, block 13; C. Henning, lots 1 and 2, block 14; D. S. Hall, lots 3 and 4, block 14; Michael Keiffer, lots 9 and 10, block 14; J. and A. Fuller, lots 1 and 2, block 15; H. W. Nelson, lot 3, block 15; ________ Zumwinkle, lot 4, block 15; L. K. Stone, lot 5, block 15; James S. Chapman, lots 6 and 7, block 15; E. M. Snell, lot 8, block 15; I. P. Patton, lot 9, block 15; Henry Koelfgen, lot 1, block 18; P. H. Swift, lot 1, block 19; H. Stone, lots 3 and 4, block 21; Almeda Hodgdon, lot 5, block 21.
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